[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Washington 4-2-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-10. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 66, Rental Property, adopted 6-1-2004 by Ord. No. 9-2004, as amended.
The purpose of this chapter is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all tenants residing in rental properties as well as all other residents and visitors to the Borough of Washington.
For use in this chapter only, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
- CERTIFICATE OF HOUSING
- A certificate issued by the Office of Housing only subsequent to a successful inspection conducted by the Housing Inspector finding no violations. No certificate of housing shall be issued if any open violations exist.
- HOUSING INSPECTOR
- The officer of the Borough of Washington located within the Office of Housing which shall be primarily responsible for administering this chapter and all polices and procedures herein as designated by § 66-16 of this chapter.
- LANDLORD and OWNER
- Any person who owns any legally cognizable interest in any rental property, including, but not limited to, outright ownership or ownership through a partnership, corporation or limited liability company.
- OFFICE OF HOUSING
- That office within the Borough of Washington which shall administer this chapter and shall keep records associated with same.
- The primary residential living unit of the owner is located within the rental property.
- PEST MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL
- A person who:
- PROPERTY MAINTENANCE
- The cleanliness and proper working order and upkeep of all areas and facilities of the rental unit, rental property or complex used by the tenants and the public.
- RENTAL PROPERTY
- Any house, structure, building or complex which contains one or more individual residential rental units other than owner-occupied houses, structures or buildings.
- RENTAL REGISTRATION STATEMENT
- A statement of information about the property required by the Office of Housing. No property shall be permitted to be rented without submission of a rental registration statement. No property shall be permitted to register without a valid certificate of housing beginning July 31, 2020, and continuing annually in perpetuity thereafter.
- RENTAL UNIT
- Includes that portion of a house, building or structure rented or offered for rent, for living and dwelling purposes, to individuals or family units.
- To live or dwell permanently or continuously for more than 14 days. Said days need not be consecutive, but must occur within a reasonably short period of time to evidence an intent to utilize the rental unit as the person's primary place of residence.
- Those persons who have leased the rental unit from the owner, regardless of the type of tenancy under which they occupy the rental unit.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to owner-occupied units located within a rental property of not more than two units per property.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to rental properties under the supervision of public housing authorities or that exclusively provide restricted senior housing or housing for the developmentally disabled.
The owner of every rental property located in the Borough of Washington and regulated by this chapter shall file a rental property registration statement with the Office of Housing. Forms for said filing can be obtained from the Office of Housing. The Office of Housing shall provide copies of all rental property registration statements to the 911 Dispatch, the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, the Construction and Zoning Officials, all other applicable local enforcement agencies and the local Board of Education. Said information will be kept confidential, and any personal identifying information will not be distributed or utilized in any manner not set forth herein unless required by law. No property shall be permitted to be rented or leased without a valid rental property registration as prescribed herein.
A rental property registration statement shall be filed on an annual basis for each rental unit on or before July 31 of each year. The annual registration fee for each unit shall be in accordance with the fee schedule set forth herein. Beginning July 31, 2020, and continuing annually in perpetuity thereafter, no property shall be permitted to be registered without a valid certificate of housing as prescribed herein. Properties shall be duly registered not later than August 15 of each year, after which point the record owner or owners, registered agents, corporate officers or other responsible individuals, as defined in this chapter, shall be subject to fines and penalties as set forth in § 66-22 of this chapter.
The rental property registration statement form shall require the submission of the following information:
The name, address and telephone number of the record owner or owners of the premises and the record owner or owners of the rental business if not the same persons. In the case of a partnership, the names of all general partners shall be provided. If the record owner is a corporation, the name and address of the registered agent and corporate officers of said corporation shall be provided;
If the address of any record owner is not located in the county in which the premises is located, the name, address and telephone number of a person who resides in the county in which the premises is located and is authorized to accept notices from a tenant and to issue receipts therefor and to accept service of process on behalf of the record owner;
The name, address and telephone number of the managing agent of the premises, if any;
The name, address and telephone number, including the dwelling unit, apartment or room number, of the superintendent, janitor, custodian or other individual employed by the record owner or managing agent to provide regular maintenance service, if any;
The name, address and telephone number of an individual representative of the record owner or managing agent who may be reached or contacted at any time in the event of an emergency affecting the premises or any unit of dwelling space therein, including such emergencies as the failure of any essential service or system, and who has the authority to make emergency decisions concerning the building, any repair thereto, disruption of utilities or expenditures in connection therewith and shall, at all times, have access to a current list of building tenants that shall be made available to emergency personnel as required in the event of an emergency;
The name and address of every holder of a recorded mortgage on the premises;
If fuel oil is used to heat the building and the landlord furnishes the heat in the building, the name and address of the fuel oil dealer servicing the building and the grade of fuel oil used (When deemed necessary, Borough officials may provide for the purchase of home heating oil or other fuel and may, thereafter, attach a lien on the subject rental property for all costs.);
The number of tenants over the age of two years authorized to reside in each rental unit, including the number of tenants over the age of two years but under the age of 19 years (school-age children). The information contained in the rental property registration statement must set forth information for each unit within the rental property and must include the number of tenants actually residing in each rental unit;
As to each rental unit, the owner shall provide a floor plan of the rental unit, which shall depict the number, dimensions and location of each room in the rental unit. No space shall be used for sleeping purposes which has not been so designated as a sleeping area on the floor plan provided by the owner and approved by the local enforcing agency, which shall be on file with the Construction Official;
As to each rental unit of 99 units or less, the owner shall provide a parking plan of the rental unit, which shall depict the number, dimensions and location of off-street parking space dedicated to each unit; and
Such other information as may be deemed necessary to enforce this chapter.
In the event the tenancy of a rental unit changes during the year, the owner or managing agent shall, within 30 days of the change in tenancy, provide an updated rental property registration statement. This shall be in addition to the requirements for obtaining a certificate of housing for the change of tenancy. A "change in tenancy" shall mean the addition of any person not included in the annual statement, or deletion of any person on the annual statement. Failure to provide the required information shall be deemed a violation of this chapter, and owners, managing agents and tenants may be held accountable for inaccurate rental property registration statements.
Inspections pursuant to this chapter shall be conducted on an annual basis unless good cause exists for requiring an earlier inspection.
All rental units subject to this chapter shall be inspected by the enforcement officers duly authorized to conduct inspections for purposes of determining compliance with all applicable local, state and federal laws, regulations, ordinances, and codes, including, but not limited to, the Uniform Construction Code, local zoning ordinances, the Property Maintenance Code, health codes, housing codes and fire codes.
The owner and/or managing agent on record with the Borough shall be notified of said inspections before they commence and shall, by request, be required to be present during said inspections. The owner and/or managing agent must, upon receiving notice of pending inspections, immediately notify all affected tenants of the pending inspections. Reasonable efforts will be made by the Borough to conduct said inspections at a mutually convenient date and time.
The owner and/or managing agent and the tenant(s) shall make the subject rental units fully available for all required inspections and are required to make all necessary arrangements to facilitate such inspections. Where inspections have been scheduled, but the owner, managing agent and/or tenants fail to make the subject rental unit(s) available at the scheduled date and time, the owner and/or tenant(s) may be fined for violation of this chapter pursuant to § 66-22.
Inspections shall only be made with the consent of at least one of each rental unit's tenants who is of legal age to grant such consent. Absent such consent, inspections may only be conducted following the issuance of an administrative search warrant, unless there is reason to believe that a violation exists which poses an immediate threat to health or safety, requiring inspection and abatement without delay. Reasonable attempts shall be made to provide advance notice to the owner and/or managing agent and to obtain consent from the tenant(s).
In the event of a tenant's refusal to allow entry for inspections, the inspecting officer may, upon affidavit, apply to the Judge of the Municipal Court for a search warrant setting forth the reasonable basis for believing that there exists a nuisance, violation of this chapter and/or violation of other local, state or federal laws, regulations, ordinances and/or codes.
In the event that the inspections of a rental unit do not result in a satisfactory outcome, the owner, managing agent and/or tenants shall complete all required repairs or corrections within the time prescribed by the inspecting officials or applicable code, and if not made within that time period, the owner and/or tenants shall be deemed in violation of this chapter, and every day that said violation continues unabated shall constitute a separate and distinct violation subject to the penalty provisions herein. Failure to abate said violations may result in the revocation of a certificate of occupancy. In the event of the revocation of a certificate of occupancy, relocation of tenants shall be required. Such relocation shall be made at the owner's expense pursuant to the provisions of § 66-7.
No person shall occupy any rental unit without first securing a certificate of housing, nor shall the owner and/or managing agent permit occupancy of any rental unit unless the rental unit has been registered and is in compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
The owner shall post the maximum authorized number of occupants in a conspicuous area within the rental unit. It shall be unlawful for any person, including the owner, managing agent and/or tenants, to allow a greater number of persons than the posted maximum number of occupants to reside in the rental unit. This provision may be enforced against the owner, managing agent and/or tenants as well as against the unauthorized persons residing in the rental unit under this chapter or any other applicable local, state or federal law, regulation, ordinance or code.
No rental property or unit shall be conducted or maintained in a manner that constitutes a nuisance. The owner and the tenants will be held responsible for any such conditions and/or activities, and such conditions and/or activities shall constitute a violation of this chapter as well as violations of any other applicable local, state or federal laws, regulations, ordinances and/or codes. For the purposes of this section, any violation of any applicable local, state or federal laws, regulations, ordinances and/or codes, including but not limited to the Uniform Fire Code, the International Property Maintenance Code as adopted by the Borough of Washington, and others shall be deemed a nuisance and therefore shall be subject any costs or penalties associated with the sections below.
Owners and/or tenants shall be liable to the Borough for the cost of reinstating utility operations should any utilities to a rental property or rental unit be permitted to lapse either by the owner or the tenants.
Owners shall be held fully liable to the Borough for relocation costs incurred due to the displacement of any tenants pursuant to N.J.S.A.20:4-4.1.
Owners are required to enter into a written lease with the persons renting each rental unit. A copy of said lease must be provided to the Office of Housing within 10 days of its execution.
In addition to those provisions required by other local, state and federal laws, regulations, ordinances and codes, owners shall also include the following additional provisions in every written lease entered into or renewed following the date of adoption of this chapter:
A provision setting forth the maximum number of residents permitted in the unit and a clear description of the location of designated sleeping areas.
A provision confirming that the tenants agree to permit reasonable inspections of their rental unit by duly authorized officials upon reasonable notice to the tenants. This provision must additionally require that the owner and/or managing agent, upon receiving notice of pending inspections from the Borough, will immediately provide notice of the pending inspections to the tenants.
Landlord's pest control responsibility.
It is the responsibility of every landlord to provide pest control services when an infestation of pests is found or reasonably suspected on the landlord's premises. The landlord must continue to provide such services until such time as evidence of pests can no longer be found or verified on the premises. Every landlord shall maintain a written record of all pest control measures performed and shall include reports and receipts prepared by the pest management professional relating to those measures taken. This record shall be maintained for three years and shall be open to inspection by the Borough.
A landlord shall provide the pest control services within 10 days after: 1) a bedbug is found or reasonably suspected anywhere on the premises; or 2) being notified in writing by a tenant of a known or reasonably suspected pest infestation on the premises or in the tenant's rental unit.
Method of extermination. The extermination of pests shall be by inspection and, if necessary, the treatment of the dwelling unit on either side of the affected dwelling unit and the unit directly above and below the affected dwelling unit. This pattern of inspection and treatment shall be continued as necessary until no further infestation is detected.
Landlord's duty of nonretaliation. The landlord may not retaliate in any manner, including by terminating a tenancy, increasing rent, decreasing services, threatening litigation, or refusing to renew a tenancy, against a tenant who in good faith requests or furthers in any manner the treatment of a known or reasonably suspected pest infestation or who in good faith registers a complaint with the Borough or other appropriate authority alleging a violation of the requirements of this § 66-9. Any landlord who violates this section shall pay the affected tenant a penalty equivalent to two months' rent, shall return to the tenant all security deposits and advanced front payments, and shall forfeit the right to require any further security deposit.
Within 15 days after a tenant finds or reasonably suspects a pest infestation in the presence of the tenant's dwelling unit, the tenant shall notify the landlord in writing of such infestation, or of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings, irritation, or sores of the skin or body which the tenant reasonably suspects are caused by bedbugs. This notification shall describe with specificity the evidence and location of any infestation. On receipt, the landlord shall file a copy of the notification with the Borough.
The tenant shall cooperate with the landlord in the control, treatment, and eradication of the pest infestation found or reasonably suspected in the tenant's rental unit. As part of this cooperation, the tenant shall:
Not interfere with inspections or treatments;
After reasonable notice in writing to the tenant, grant access at reasonable times to the tenant's rental unit for purposes of infestation inspection or treatment;
Make any necessary preparations prior to treatment in accordance with any pest management professional's recommendations; and
Promptly dispose of any personal property that a pest management professional has determined cannot be treated or cleaned by enclosing such personal property in a plastic bag and clearly labeling it as infested prior to transporting such property out of the dwelling unit.
Prior to inspection or treatment for the infestation, the landlord shall send a written notice to the tenant of the rental unit being inspected or treated, advising the tenant of the tenant's responsibilities under this section and setting forth the specific preparations required of the tenant.
Enforcement. Borough inspectors shall have authority to inspect the interior and exterior of buildings and attached lands for the infestation, and when any evidence of an infestation of pests is found, to report such evidence to the appropriate Borough authority.
Violations and penalties. Any person who violates this § 66-9 shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $500 for the first violation, not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for the second violation, and not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000 for the third or subsequent violation. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall apply.
No person, firm, corporation or any combination thereof shall occupy any residential, commercial, industrial or other structure in the Borough of Washington unless said person, firm or corporation shall first obtain from the Borough of Washington a certificate of housing in accordance with this chapter.
No person, firm, corporation or combination thereof who owns residential, industrial or other structures shall permit the same or part thereof to be occupied by another without first securing from the Office of Housing of the Borough of Washington a certificate of habitability for said structure. Those who must obtain a certificate of housing under § 66-12C of this chapter shall be exempt from this requirement.
No person, firm, corporation, association, partnership, or any combination thereof owning a structure shall allow the same to be leased or rented without registering for the certificate of housing with the Office of Housing of the Borough of Washington.
Persons, firms or corporations or any combination thereof who rent or lease a structure or portion thereof and who have registered for a certificate of housing shall allow the Office of Housing to inspect the same on the time and date prescribed by the Office of Housing and shall further comply with all the requirements necessary for issuance of a certificate of housing prescribed by the Office of Housing within the time period prescribed.
No person, firm, corporation or combination thereof who owns any unoccupied residential, commercial, industrial or other structure or portions thereof shall permit the same to be reoccupied for the purposes of leasing same to tenants in accordance with the provisions of this chapter without first securing from the Office of Housing a certificate of housing.
No certificate of housing shall be issued for a structure being offered for lease to any tenant unless the condition of the same complies with all health, safety, fire and departmental regulations established pursuant to said ordinances or laws of the Borough of Washington and the Property Maintenance Code adopted by the Borough of Washington.
Once a certificate of housing has been issued, it shall be valid for 12 months from the date of issuance absent any substantial change to the premises following the date of issuance.
All rental structures registered for a certificate of housing inspection will be assigned for a date and time for an inspection by the Office of Housing. Thereafter, the structure and its units will require inspections and certificates of housing every 12 months. Structures found not to be in conformance with the standards of this chapter may, at the discretion of the Office of Housing, be required to have periodic inspections of a frequency determined by the Housing Inspector. The Office of Housing and/or Housing Inspector may establish categories of structures and schedules of inspections.
In any case where there may be a conflict in the provisions of the codes or ordinances of the Borough of Washington and the Property Maintenance Code adopted by the Borough of Washington, or in the regulations of the State of New Jersey, the higher standards for the promotion and protection of the safety and health of the people shall prevail.
The Housing Inspector of the Borough of Washington shall be the primary officer who has the duty and power to enforce this chapter. The Housing Inspector shall also, at his discretion, confer upon the Zoning Officer, Animal Control Officer, Fire Official, or any police officer in the employ of the Police Department currently serving the Borough of Washington the duty and power to enforce this chapter.
The Office of Housing will register the structure after the owner provides the name and address of the owner, the name and address of the rental agent, if any, the name of the property, the tenants and a description of the premises, including the number of units, the street address, the property block and lot number, any applicable apartment number, a verification of current sewer and tax payments, and a valid certificate of housing. This registration shall be required annually.
The Office of Housing of the Borough of Washington shall have such powers as may be necessary to carry out the intent and purposes of this chapter, including but not limited to the following enumerated powers:
To investigate the habitable conditions of the Borough of Washington in order to determine which houses, apartments or other structures, including a mobile home and a modular unit, are unfit for human habitation.
To enter upon said premises for the purposes of making examinations incidental to its duties.
To delegate any of the functions and powers to the employees of the Borough of Washington or the Police Department serving the Borough of Washington as the Office of Housing may designate or as may be designated by the Council of the Borough of Washington.
Upon application of a property owner, the Housing Inspector shall make an inspection of said house, apartment or other structure for which there has been an application for an occupancy permit within five working days from receipt of said application and the payment of the fee or, where applicable, on the date prescribed upon registration.
The Housing Inspector shall make a report promptly after such inspection and advise the applicant of any violations of the codes or ordinances of the Borough of Washington and the Property Maintenance Code adopted by the Borough of Washington, or in the regulations of the State of New Jersey.
Prior to issuance of a certificate of housing, sidewalks, curbs and gutters shall be constructed in accordance with § 75-19 of the Borough Code.
The Borough Council may waive the requirement for sidewalks, curbs and gutters if either of the following two conditions exists:
Violations of the foregoing codes and ordinances or noncompliance therewith shall be grounds for denial of the certificate of housing.
In addition to the penalties set forth in § 66-9, any owner or agent, landlord, tenant, and any person or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or fail to comply therewith or with any of the requirements thereof shall be liable to a fine of not more than $2,000, community service or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or a fine, community service and imprisonment. Each and every day such violation continues shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation. Each violation of this chapter shall be a separate and distinct violation.
This section establishes the minimum regulations governing the conditions and maintenance of all rental property, buildings and structures described herein by providing the standards for supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to ensure that structures are safe, sanitary and fit for occupation or use; and the condemnation of buildings or structures deemed unfit for human occupancy or use and for the demolition of such structures.
That certain document, three copies of which are on file in the office of the Office of Housing of the Borough of Washington, being marked and designated as the International Property Maintenance Code (2015 Edition), as published by the International Code Council, Inc., be and is hereby adopted as the Rental Property Maintenance Code of the Borough of Washington, in the State of New Jersey, for the control of buildings, structures and property offered for rent or lease by tenants as herein provided; and each and all of the regulations, provisions, penalties, conditions and terms of said International Property Maintenance Code are hereby referred to, adopted, and made a part hereof, as if fully set out in this chapter, with the additions, insertions, deletions and changes, if any, prescribed in § 66-25 of this chapter.
The following modifications to the International Property Maintenance Code (2015 Edition) are hereby adopted:
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions or regulations of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished as provided in § 66-22. Each day that such violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.